The documents prompted outrage from top Democrats in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). It has also sparked discussions within Democratic circles about icing out the network. The White House, for its part, sidestepped having Biden sit down with Fox for an interview around the Super Bowl — breaking with tradition that the host network of the game get a one-on-one with the president.
Fox confirmed O’Brien’s departure in a statement.
“FOX is currently interviewing for our Head of Government Relations role and speaking with internal and external candidates,” spokesman Brian Nick said. “We would like to thank Danny for his years of outstanding service to our Company and wish him the best of luck on his next endeavor.”
O’Brien joined Fox in 2018 as head of its Washington office, where he led the company’s legislative, regulatory and policy agenda and its government relations team. Before that, he served as a global government affairs and policy executive for what is now GE Transportation.
But it’s his past roles in the public sector that have made O’Brien’s placed of employment especially intriguing.
O’Brien worked on Democratic campaigns for years, before moving to the Hill to work for former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.). He then served as chief of staff in Biden’s Senate office from 2003 to 2006, and later held the same role with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), in addition to becoming staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When Biden ran for president in 2008, O’Brien was tapped as his policy director.
At Fox, O’Brien had built up an in-house lobbying shop that employed more Democrats (3) than Republicans (1). In 2019, he hired veteran broadcast lobbyist Jamie Gillespie away from the National Association of Broadcasters, and last year O’Brien recruited a staffer straight from Biden’s West Wing, Carissa Joy.
O’Brien is not the first Democrat to lead Fox’s D.C. office — his predecessor, Chip Smith, helped lead former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 White House bid.
And ahead of last year’s midterms, Fox said its corporate PAC gave roughly evenly to Republicans and Democrats, including maximum donations to each party’s national committee and House and Senate campaign arms. Democratic recipients of Fox’s campaign cash included some of Fox News’ favorite punching bags, such as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and several of each party’s most vulnerable incumbents.
In his new role at Qcells, O’Brien will almost assuredly be working on the implementation of one of Biden’s legacy legislative achievements as president, the climate and tax spending bill passed last year.
Last month the company and Biden announced a $2.5 billion dollar investment for an existing Qcells solar manufacturing plant in Georgia that was attributed specifically to the Inflation Reduction Act. Qcells also recently announced a partnership with Microsoft, and said that O’Brien will lead its policy, communications and sustainability teams as Qcells “expands across the clean energy value chain in the United States.”
Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.